Untitled by Anonymous

Josie Leavitt - August 1, 2011

When I  got an email with the above subject, I couldn’t help but laugh. The vagueness was not cleared up by reading the email. My Hachette rep, bless his heart, did his best to include more information by including a sell sheet with the email. Sadly, it didn’t help clear up the matter.
The email said, “The inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time.” Maybe I’m feeling a little too cynical, but that “figure” could be any one of at least 20 people I can think of. Some I care enough about to want to sell this behemoth in my store (only 10 books per carton), and others I wouldn’t want gracing the front door of my shop.
I can’t help but wonder how this no-info allowed marketing campaign is going to do anything more than irritate.  It’s a little crazy to ask all the book buyers to hope this controversial figure will sell in their market. I mean really, how can you justify buying a book when you know absolutely nothing about it? Publisher hype aside, I just cannot do it, and I may get caught short come the release date.
Of course I’m curious. But this is the different from the Oprah books of the past. Those books had a solid sales history, regardless of the author. It was the brand that sold these, so I put up with ordering a book whose title and author I did not know. It is helpful to know that there will be a massive marketing campaign. But I can’t help but feel a little bullied into buying this book, and that feeling is not making me predisposed to ordering a carton of what may be an ENORMOUS BOOK.
I can’t imagine trying to ask a customer in the store to pre-order this book. “Well, I have no idea what this is about and I have no idea who wrote it, but I think you should special order it. I hear it’s going to be a huge deal.” I can’t think of anyone who would buy the book based on that.
If you want to build hype on a book, let booksellers read it ahead of time, let us get excited about the author team and subject matter, and make us want to get this book in the hands of all of our customers. But telling me nothing about the book is just plain silly.

16 thoughts on “Untitled by Anonymous

  1. Carol B. Chittenden

    Isn’t it based on Hachette’s hacking of Rupert Murdoch’s e-mail and cell phone conversations?

  2. Al Krysan

    You fell into their trap (as did I)…you’ve now spent time helping promote their “Untitled by Anonymous” book…and got me to read about it! Now we’ve both wasted our time learning nothing about nothing!

  3. Laurel Book Store

    I agreed once for the curious fun of it to buy a few copies of a mystery title such as this. It turned out to be a book on Princess Diana that I promptly returned two weeks later. I think it does more of a disservice to the author, sales rep, and publishing house than I’m willing to participate in. Just tell me. I can keep a secret.

  4. Tami Cowden

    I think you are missing a great opportunity. Think of the buyers who come into bookstores asking for books for which they can remember neither the title nor the author. Obviously, this is the book they seek…

  5. Susan n AZ

    What planet is this marketing rep living on? In this economy, you can’t sell a 99-cent ebook without a full description, preferably with a sample chapter available and some favorable advance reviews. As a consumer, why would I waste any of my limited reading time even considering a book that was advertised like that? DUH.
    With so many books now “dumbed down” under the guise of political correctness, is it any kind of mystery why so many readers are sticking to the defiantly incorrect romance genre?
    Tell that rep to get a grip. That book and your store will never meet unless he changes his “clever” campaign into something useful.

  6. John C Martucci

    Its like a scene from “Spinal Tap” but for bookstores (now that there are no more record stores). Hachette shouldn’t have put their name on it either. It should be from “some publisher”.


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